Teenagers and young adults are using fewer street drugs — cocaine, heroin and marijuana — than they did in 2002, says a government report out recently. Children ages 12 to 17 are using fewer prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.
But the survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows young adults 18 to 25 are using more prescription drugs.
Use of prescription pain relievers for non-medical purposes in that age group rose from 4.1% in 2002 to 4.6% in 2007.
Steve Pasierb, CEO of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a non-profit organization that focuses on reducing drug use among young people, says the survey reflects his organization's data.
"This generation is abusing far fewer illegal drugs than any generation before them," Pasierb says, but "prescription drugs are a problem."
Kids and parents often don't recognize prescription drugs as a problem because they're legal, he says. But they can be as dangerous as any street drug when taken without a prescription for non-medical reasons.
"We don't have parents tuned into this issue the way we have parents tuned into other forms of drug use," Pasierb says.
The prescription drug issue is especially important because "the numbers of kids abusing prescription drugs dwarfs the numbers of kids using all other drugs combined except marijuana and alcohol," says Joseph Califano, president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.
Source: USA Today
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